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tv   Charlie Rose  PBS  August 22, 2017 12:00pm-1:01pm PDT

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>> rose: welcome to the program. it is the end of summer and as we prepare for the next season, we bring you some of our favorite conversations here on charlie rose. tonight justice ruth bader ginsberg and justice sonia sotomayor taped at the new york city bar association. >> i thought of myself in those days as a teacher. my parents thought teaching would be a good occupation for me because women were welcomed there and they weren't welcomed as doctors, lawyers, engineers. i realize that i was facing an audience that didn't know what i was talking about. they understood race discrimination, that was odious, but most men at that time
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thought that, yes, the law was riddled with gender-based distinctions, but they all operated benignly in women's favor. like a woman didn't have to serve on a jury if she didn't want to, so that was a benefit. >> the eavesdropping reflected curiosity, and i think that that's what drove me as a lawyer. i mean, i always tell people and it's not a perfect analogy but being a lawyer is like being a voyeur in other people's lives. you participate a little more than voyeurs do, thankfully, but in every case you get to learn how people or an industry or a government entity interacts in the world, what they do and what's important to them, and to be able to enjoy that process, i think you have to have curiosity. so listening to others and their
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conversations was a way of teaching myself things that i would not have otherwise learned so easily. >> rose: binz gr ginsburg and sotomayor for the hour. >> and by bloomberg, a provider of multimedia news and information services worldwide. captioning sponsored by rose communications from our studios in new york city, this is charlie rose. >> rose: tonight, a rare conversation with two supreme court justices, ruth bader ginsberg and sonia sotomayor. as you know, the supreme court
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kicked off its term this month with only eight justices upon the death of supreme court justice antonen scalia. tonight we hear about the court and the love of law from two justices. let me take note of the fact they both have written books. justice sotomayor's was called my beloved world. justice ginsburg was called my own words, which is a compilation of speeches and essays she's written. looking back on your life, justice ginsburg, and thinking even though it was incorporated in speeches, what was that like for you to put your own life in focus and how was that? >> my own words, as you said, is a collection of speeches, bench announcements, tributes to colleagues.q@ it's not -- >> rose: a biography. it's not a biography of me to
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the extent my life is told, it's in the introductory passages that my official biographers wrote. that biography will come out sometime in the distant future. ( laughter ) >> rose: your book, my beloved world, you said i am my mother. what did you mean? >> as i tell her, good and bad. ( laughter ) i am my mother's drive. she aspired to be more than her circumstances. she wanted to go -- desperately go to college, and she lived in the poorest circumstances in her home community, and she would watch the college girls walk by
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her house going to the post office, because that was the center of the town social life at the time, and all she dreamt about was some day going to college. getting my brother and i into college was her living her dreams. now, she wanted me to be a journalist. i don't think she was ever convinced that there was much value in law. ( laughter ) perhaps when i got on the supreme court, she might have changed her mind. ( laughter ) but i lived that dream for her, and i've lived all of her dreams because she set the example for me of striving always to do better, to trying to be the best person i humanly could be because that's how my mother lives her life, so i try to emulate all those things in my mother that are the best, and then when i do the things that
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arare bad, i remind her that that's the problem with being a little duck, you copy everything, you know. ( laughter ) >> rose: you once said watching a child scanning adults for cues and listening in on their conversations was an important aspect of growing up for you. >> sure. who doesn't like to eavesdrop? ( laughter ) but i think that the eavesdropping reflected curiosity, and i think that that's what drove me as a lawyer. i mean, i always tell people -- and it's not the perfect analogy -- but being a lawyer's like being a voyeur into other people's lives. you participate a little more than voyeurs do, thankfully, but you get to, in every case, you get to learn about how people or an industry or government entity interacts in the world, what they do and what's important to
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them, and to be able to enjoy that process, i think you have to have curiosity. so listening to others and their conversations was a way of teaching myself things i would not have otherwise learned so easily. >> rose: judge ginsburg, when did you fall in love with the law i? >> people sometimes askig me, did you always want to be a judge? or more absorbently a supreme court justice? ( laughter ) and when i think of what life was like in this city in the '40s, no girl -- it would not be her wildest dream to be a judge because there simply weren't any. franklifranklin delano roosevelt appointed the first woman to a federal am what court in 1934.
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florence allen from ohio. she stepped down the year i graduated from law school in 1959, and then there were none. and then johnson appointed shirley huff stetler, she became the first ever secretary of education, and then there were none again. so i didn't think about being a judge until jimmy carter became president of the united states, and he looked around at the federal bench and he said, you know, they all look like me. ( laughter ) but that's not how the great united states looks. he was determined to appoint members of minority groups and women in numbers not as one at a time curiosities. he appointed over 25 women to
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the federal district court, the trial bench, and 11 to courts of appeals, and i was one of those lucky eleven. no president, by the way, went back to the way it was. president reagan didn't want to be outdone so he made a nation-wide search for the first woman. >> rose: sandra day o'connor. and it was a brilliant choice. >> rose: in fact, you have said when she left the court, retired, and alito came on, it marked a change in the court. >> yes. >> rose: because she was gone. well, i have said more than once that the term she left, whenever the court divided 5-4 and i was one of the four, i would have been one of the five if she remained with us. so there was that enormous
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difference. >> rose: but my question, too, going back to both of you have been influenced by people. your mom. your late husband marty had a huge influence. >> yes. >> rose: you have said to me that you would not have made it to the supreme court without him. >> no question about it. people who observed at the time said, well, ruth would have been on a list, maybe she would be 22 or 23, but it was marty who made her number one. >> rose: how did he do that? he had a little book of people that he contacted. ( laughter ) mainly my academic colleagues. in those days i was teaching at -- well, this was before my first good job in d.c. he got in touch with academic colleagues, with lawyers who
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knew me from the work that i -- the lawyering work that i had done, and he had many letters sent to the president, but i think the most important thing of all, and this was almost out of the blue, my rabbi, my guide was senator moyahan. how did that come about? it was a connection marty was pleased to have. but it didn't come through him. the ept was on a plane with senator moyahan going to a function in the city and said please tell me who you would pick for the supreme court. and senator moynahan said, well,
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mr. president, i'm not a lawyer so you shouldn't be asking me that question. the president said, i value your judgment, who would you pick? and senator moyahan said ruth bader ginsberg. why? because dean griswold, the long-time dean of harvard law school thinks she's very good. ( laughter ) and this is the dean that said i could not have a harvard law degree because i didn't stay there for my third year. >> reporteryear. >> rose: right. so many chance things occur in life and you don't know if they turn out to be good or bad. but this certainly was good. there was a celebration at the court of the 50th anniversary of the building, so the building was completed in 1935, and this was 1985. dean griswold was then solicitor general. he was to make a speech about
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great advocates before the court. and by 1985, he realizes that he can't have a list that's all men. so after he finishes with thurgood marshall, the next person he mentions is ruth bader ginsberg. >> rose: yes. when i went through my nomination process, i was told that everyone should have a marty ginsburg as a muse. ( laughter ) he apparently came into the preparation session with folders, including all of ruth's speeches, her entire schedule for her entire life, and binders filled with tax information. >> well, that part, the press reported inaccurately because they said the reason that ginsburg had no problem with the
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taxes or the baby sitter is because marty was a tax lawyer. ( laughter ) but, in our home, ou personal life, i did all the taxes. ( laughter ) ( applause ) >> rose: yes, and des who did all the cooking? >> yes, yes. >> rose: marty. all the president's men descended on my apartment to go through my papers, marty made a delicious lunch every day. ( laughter ) >> rose: it was at one point, he would do all the special occasions, and you would do dinners for the kids during weekdays, and finally, your daughter came to you and said, maybe you should just give that up, too. ( laughter ) >> well, in fact, my daughter, who was an excellent cook
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herself, she learned from the master. i was the everyday cook, so i had seven things that i made. ( laughter ) when i got to number seven, we went back to number one, and they all came out of the 60-minute chef. that meant no more than 60 minutes from when you walk in the door till it was on the table. marty would never allow me to cook for company and he was the weekend cook. ( laughter ) so my daughter jane, along in her high school years, realized that daddy's cooking was infinitely better than mommies and that mommy should be phased out of the kitchen. ( laughter ) finally, the result of that is that my wonderful daughter comes once a month, she cooks for me, she fills the freezer with individual dinners, and we do something nice together in the evening. she feels responsible for getting me out of the kitchen and doesn't think i should go back in it.
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( laughter ) >> the supreme court refrigerator is filled with some of the left overs. >> yes, yes. ( laughter ) >> rose: what's the best experience for a supreme court justice? >> oh -- >> rose: go ahead. what an interesting question. >> rose: tell me. well, i'm biased. i think being on the district court was, and since almost all my colleagues have only had court of appeals experience with the exception of one elena kagan who was never with judge, and there have only been three supreme court justices in the history of the court with district court experience, but i find it hard to understand how you can really appreciate the life of a case if you haven't really sat in a courtroom to see that case develop and to understand the dynamics that
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create a record, that create the discussions that end up coming before the court on appellate review. in my judgment, if i were ever privileged to be asked by a president what should he or she look for, i'd probably say someone with district court experience. >> rose: because, doing that, you get to see not only the case but you get to see the stories and the people who make up the stories that are in conflict. >> well, it helps to be a lawyer, as sonia said, who knows the story. >> rose: yep. go ahead. >> who probably knows more about the case than the district judge. ( laughter ) >> rose: oh! we have a debate going. ( laughter ) >> i should say i started out my life in the law as a clerk to a
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district judge, so i was a clerk in the southern district of new york for two years from 59:00 to -- from '59 to '61. >> ruth, do you see appellate practice being the same as trial practice, even excepting your premise which being a lawyer isn't critical, but there is a different between trial and appellate lawyers. >> there is an enormous difference. the important thing at the trial level is to build a record. >> and to know how difficult that can be. >> yes. >> rose: when you decide cases, do you think about -- i mean, are you looking and saying, we have to do what the law tells us, looking at precedent and looking at the constitution? but due also say to yourselves, what's going to be the impact on people, these decisions that we
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are making? >> well, i think there is two entirely harmonious, when the constitution says nor shall any person be deprived of life, liberty or property -- it's any person. nor shall any person be denied the equal protection of the laws, the constitution tells us to think about the individual and the rights that the individual has. so i don't think there is anything -- >> rose: but it's not an abstract. it's a reality in terms of -- >> well, it's inescapable for us to be aware of the impact of our decisions. in virtually every case of any significant social impact, we are receiving briefs, friends of the court briefs from virtually every impacted segment of society. so we can't decide a big issue
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case without hearing from all of the people who believe they will be impacted positively or negatively, just whatever our ruling might be. so that's an inescapable part of our work. but i think ruth is talking more fundamentally, which is obviously you can't rule, i don't think, without at least understanding what the consequences will be of your ruling, not just in terms of the law, but since the law is responsive to human developments, you have to know what's going to happen more broadly to be able to understand the choices you're making. >> now, there are some cases when the law is clear and certain. like you have to be a certain age to run for office. but that's not the kind of case that we get. >> rose: right. the special thing about the
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supreme court is, for the most part, we don't take cases where everybody agrees. ( laughter ) we wait for what we call splits, that is other judges disagreeing about what the federal law is, whether a constitutional provision, what it means in a particular context, or a dense statute passed by congress. so the wonderful input we have, by the time the case gets to us, we have the benefit of what other good minds on benches state and federal have said about the issue. >> rose: but the interesting thing, too, thúugh, at the district and appellate court level, appeals court, there is a higher place it can go. but if you're on the supreme court, the buck stops here. this is it. you then are making the decision that is the final decision. >> and not you.
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>> rose: the court is. the district judges sonia was talking about, they are the real power holders in the system because they sit alone in a courtroom. you can't get out. you're stuck with that judge from the day the complaint is filed until the final judgment. then you go up to the court of appeals. so sonia lost a little power when she went to the second circuit because -- >> i lost a lot of power. ( laughter ) >> you were not the lady of the manor anynor, you had to carry one more mind to prevail and in the supreme court the magic number is five. >> rose: yes. so i have often said, when i write for the court, it's never as if i were queen. i have to take into account the views of my colleagues and reflect those in the opinion.
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>> rose: how much do you think your life as a litigator has influenced your sense of supreme court justice? the historic role you've played. >> i am sensitive to what it's like to be on the receiving end of questions. >> rose: yes. i had a fan tacks fortune in that i was alive and a lawyer when the women's movement was revived in this country. what we were saying in the '70s successfully winning case after case, exactly the same thing that women had said ever since abigail adams and even
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before, but society wasn't prepared to listen in the seventies. society had already moved, so the changes in the law were catching up to the changes that had already occurred in people's lives. so to be able to advocate for that cause, to see results that could not have been achieved even in h the '60s was a fantastic opportunity, totally exhilarating, also exhausting. >> rose: but the arguments you made, those briefs you wrote and those decisions you influenced, were they the proudest achievements of your life? >> yes, i would say yes. and when i uh thought of muself in those days as a teacher, my
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parents thought teaching would be a good occupation for me because women were welcomed there and they weren't welcomed as doctors, lawyers, engineers. i realized i was facing an audience that didn't know what i was talking about. they understood race discrimination, that was odious, but most men at that time thought that, yes, the law was riddled with gender-based distinctions but they all operated benignly in women's favor. like a woman didn't have to serve on a jury if she didn't want to, so that was a benefit to get them to see that says something about a woman as a citizen because a citizen has rights and obligations, obligations as well as rights.
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men know they are an essential part of the citizenry because they can't escape civic duties. but women, they are expendable. we really don't need them. to get across that message that this med stall many men thought women were on -- they were spared the necessity to earn a living -- that was a myth because it was never true for poor women -- to get them to see that what they regarded as favors in the wonderful expression that justice brennan used, it turned out to be a cage more often than not because it confined women and what they
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were able to do. so to get the court to understand there really was gender-based discrimination, that was a challenging job. >> ruth, may i? >> rose: please. i was going to say, i made dissent. as groundbreaking as your work as a litigator was, i think notorious r.g.b. will live on a lot longer. ( laughter ) ( applause ) >> rose: and what do you think of that? >> well, i think it's absolutely amazing that an 83-year-old woman should be notorious. ( laughter ) but i have said, i understand where it comes from. >> rose: yes. for one thing, you know the famous rap of notorious -- >> rose: yes. well, he and i were born in
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brooklyn, so we have that in common. ( applause ) but more than that, i think the nyu student who dreamed up this notorious r.b.g., it started with my dissenting opinion in the shelby county case, the decision that took the heart out of the voting rights act of 1965. she was angry. then she thought, that's not a very productive emotion, i want to do something positive, so she took my dissent in the shelby county case, and that was the beginning of the notorious r.b.g. ( laughter ) >> rose: your role model to many people for many things, how do you see that? and you have spoken before about, you know, supreme court might be very, very beneficial to have, to see how well a
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latino woman sees this world. >> earlier, we were in conversation -- >> rose: yes. -- with your editor, your book editor. >> rose: yes. and we were talking about when i embarked on writing my book, i asked my editor what makes a great memoir? and my editor and yours as well have said the identical thing, honesty. and that readers can read and feel when truth is being spoken or when it's sort of a put-on that's not to be believed or accepted. to the extent that i continue to try to live my life as a normal
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person and within an honesty that i define as valuable, trying to be both human and a justice -- not that you're not -- ( laughter ) -- then i think i give people hope about being able to achieve the things they want to achieve even though they might perceive in themselves limitations that this society is otherwise imposing on them. so -- >> rose: you, too, can dream your dreams. >> yes, and you don't have to let the limitations that others might impose on you or even the ones that you feel yourself disable you from both trying and potentially achieving. so that's what i perceive my role to be. to continue to be as much sonia
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as i can be so those others who live lives similar to the one i have can also hope. >> rose: and feel that they are part of the fabric of american life. >> i have. they can be, too. >> rose: yes. ( applause ) >> there was a line i used in the introduction to the book about the five jewish justices. >> rose: right. and the question was what is the difference between a bookkeeper in the gorman district and a supreme court justice, and my answer was one generation. the difference between the opportunities open to my mother and those open to me. >> rose: one generation.
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one generation, it was an important generation. >> rose: i once asked you, because you're often called the thurgood marshall of the women's movement, and you have said to me, that's a comparison you reject because? >> when thurgood marshall went into a town in the south -- >> rose: to argue a case. -- in the morning, he didn't know whether he would be alive at the end of the day. i recommend to everybody a book called "devil in the grove," and you will get that sense of what those lawyers were up against. they, for the, didn't know -- they, in fact, didn't know whether they would live to see another day. that was something i never, never encountered.
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my life was never in danger, and that was an enormous difference. as far as technique, well, yes, i cop idea thurgood marshall's technique. ( laughter ) he was a great lawyer, and he led the court step by step to get to brown v board. he argued cases when he told the court separate but equal is not before the courted today, these facilities are vastly unequal, take the law school the university of texas had set up when they knew they had to have some legal training for african-americans, so they set up this vastly inferior law school. when he had his building blocks in place, then he made the big pitch. and, so, the aclu women's rights projects which i co-founded, that's what we tried to do to get there, not in one giant step, but so that, by the time
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the big step came, it would be inevitable because of all the building blocks led up to it. >> do you think you've reached that stage, ruth? >> no. but considering where we were -- wering that in 19 -- considering that in 1961, the liberal warren court told wendell and hoit, today a woman we would call battered, who had been humiliated to the break point by her philandering, abusive husband, she one day couldn't bear it anymore. she spied her son's baseball bat, picked it up with all her might, hit her husband over the head, that was the end of the humiliation and the beginning of the murder prosecution. florida didn't put women on
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jurisin those days. those days, not all that long ago, 1961. well, the supreme court said, we don't understand what the this complaint is about. now, any woman who wants to serve can go to the clerk's office and sign up, but if she doesn't sign up, she's not going to be called. hoit's thinking was, if there were women on my jury, perhaps they wouldn't acquit me, but there is a good chance they would have convicted me of the lesser offense of manslaughter an not murder. well, she was convicted of murder by an all male jury, and the warren court thought that was okay, as late as 1961. >> rose: '61. so the change didn't come till the berger court, a court that had a reputation for being conservative, and yet that court
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struck down one federal law after another, one state law after another, on the ground that they discriminated arbitrarily on the basis of gender. >> rose: so what does that say about the way the court works, you know, and time? >> well, there's a great -- there was a great constitutional law professor who said, the court should never be influenced by the weather of the day, but ini'veta bring, it will -- but inevitably, it will be influenced by the climate of the era, and that's what the court of the '70s was influenced by. >> rose: and is that what the court of the 21st century has been with respect to marriage equality and same-sex marriage, influenced by what was happening in the larger community?
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the climate. >> i'm wondering whether i should answer at all. ( laughter ) >> rose: why are you wondering? >> she gets more cover than i do. ( laughter ) >> rose: that's an interesting expression in itself, she gets more cover than i do, meaning she's given more -- what? latitude? >> well, i think so, and rightfully, so she's earned it. ( laughter ) no, she has fully earned it. >> it's only because i'm old enough to be her mother. ( laughter ) but i will say something about what happened. when i was growing up, people who were not heterosexual were in the closet, they did not
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reveal who they were. i remember the first time -- it was in this very spaes, it was a program in the new york city bar about the problems that tbai and lesbian -- gay and lesbian people encountered, things like renting a house or finding a dentist, and i was on the post-admission legal education committee, and one member of the committee or another would sponsor every program. no one volunteered to sponsor a program that the gay activist alliance asked to have at the city bar just to explain the problems they encountered. so i volunteered, and i was the only woman on the committee, and the men sort of giggled. what's so funny? well, ruth, do you think they
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will feel comfortable dealing with a woman? and i said, well, what makes you think that the gay activist alliance is composed only of men? ( laughter ) and the truth was that they sent their excellent vice president, who happened to be a woman, as one of the people to speak. what happened, i think, was people came out of the closet. people stood up and said this is who i am and i'm proud of it. and we looked around, and who were they? our next door neighbor, our child's best friend, maybe even our child. when that happened, it was no longer the same we-they difference. they were part of we. these were people we loved, that we worked with. that was something i think that
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gave impotence to the gay rights movement that was much harder -- there was a we-they sense about that which, once people stood up and said, this is who i am, that made an enormous difference. >> if you count the decades from plessy vs. ferguson, accepting segregation as compatible with the 14th amendment, to brown haves board of education, it was over 50 yeaears, and it took us that long to live the societal expectations of what equality -- true equality had to mean.
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i think ruth is pointing to the fact that we have a society that begins to think about the notions differently with experience and those experiences teach both the society and, yes, justices at times. >> rose: is there a special bond between the three justices that are women on this court? >> i'll say there is a special pride i have in my newest colleagues because -- and you know the old nursery rhyme, what are little girls made of, sugar and spice and everything nice, that's what little girls are made of. little boys, nails and snails and puppy dog tails. ( laughter ) well, all of you who have visited the supreme court know that my newest colleagues are
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not shrinking vi violets ( laughter ) >> rose: yes. they take a very active part in the colloquy that goes on, in oral argument. >> rose: yes. if i might take the liberty of relaying a story. >> rose: all right. the day our newest colleague elena kagan was sworn in, the president, as is customary, was there and came in to greet all of the justices. and he got to justice ginsburg and said something like, judge ginsburg, are you happy with the two sisters i've brought you? ( laughter ) and ruth paused and looked at him and said, i'm very happy, but i'll be happier when there is five. ( laughter ) ( applause )
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>> well, the answer to that, give to the question when will there be enough? when there are nine, of course. ( laughter ) >> rose: there are only eight now. tell us what -- >> eight is not a good number for a collegial court. ( laughter ) >> rose: and you hope after the election that there will be a consideration by the senate before the new president takes office? >> i think we hope they will be as quickly as possible. we function as nine. >> i thought we did remarkably well last term when there were only three cases that couldn't be decided because there was an even division, but they were important cases. it means that uncertainty will
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continue in the country on those issues until there are nine. >> rose: you have said to me -- you missed justice scalia. >> yes. >> rose: justice breyer was on with me at another forum last week and he said i miss the spirit of justice scalia and the debates with justice scalia. i assume you feel the same way. >> he made us laugh. >> rose: that's what it was. yeah. and he made us think. he challenged us to think. and those are ingredients for interesting conversation and for lively discussion. >> rose: you once said to me, you both loved opera, but you say he could sing better than you. >> i can't sing at all. i'm monotone. ( laughter ) >> rose: but they are writing lines for you in the opera that
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you will perform in when? when's it coming up? >> november 12. >> rose: november 12. it's a speaking part. >> rose: oh, a speaking part. ( laughter ) >> there is an opera, scalia ginsburg, it's a comic opera, of course. ( laughter ) but the composer who wrote scalia-ginsburg tried to say in a nutshell what's the difference between the two of us. it opens with scalia's rage aurea. and that's this, the justices are blind, how can they possibly spout this? the constitution says, absolutely nothing about this. and i answer that he is
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searching for bright mind solutions to problems that don't have easy answers, but the great thing about our constitution is that, like our society, it can evolve. >> rose: yeah. so that sets up the -- >> rose: yes. ( laughter ) >> and then we have a wonderful duet at the end. it says we are different, we are one. different in the way we approach the interpretation of legal texts but one in our reverence for the constitution and the court. >> rose: one thing justice scalia said it wasn't necessarily a good idea for the supreme court to say how many justices came from harvard or yale, and most of them had
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judicial experience at the court of appeals level. >> i didn't think he thought that. >> rose: regardless of whether he said it or not -- ( laughter ) >> i'll give you that. >> rose: okay. well, since i'm from yale, and ruth spends part of her -- spent part of her time at harvard -- >> columbia has had a lot of great justices. >> rose: you spent two years at columbia and got your degree from columbia in a story you and i have talked about. when you switched from harvard after two years to columbia for your third year, harvard would not give you a degree. you cot a degree from columbia. >> they said i had to stay for the third year. >> rose: and you got your third year, because your husband was moving to new york, correct? >> yes. >> rose: right. but -- >> and i didn't want to be a single mom. but there were two things, really. marty had been diagnosed with a
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very serious cancer. we didn't know how long he was going to live, so we didn't want to be apart that year, and i didn't want to be a single mom to my then three-year-old daughter. >> rose: right. so i asked the dean if i successfully complete my legal education at columbia, will i get a harvard degree? absolutely not. you have to spend the third year here. i had the perfect rebuttal argument, because a classmate of mine at cornell had taken her first year of law school at penn. she transferred into our second year class. i said to the dean, mrs. isslebagle will have year two and three opened you will give her a degree. you say the first year is by far the most important. i have year one and two, a case.
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( laughter ) >> rose: well, to come back to the point, what's lovely about this story is they then wanted to give you a degree to the law school -- >> oh, that's when my now colleague elena colleague. >> rose: does dean. when she became dean, every year, she said, ruth, we would like you to have a harvard law school degree. >> rose: and? and my dear husband said hold out for an honorary degree is that and they gave it to you? >> in 2011, sadly one year after he died. >> rose: and proudly there is a picture in your chambers of you receiving that in your crimson and one of your heros singing to you. >> being serenaded by lasio domingo. >> rose: and she's labeled the photograph "woman in ecstasy." ( laughter ) >> i said just recently there is no way that the supreme court can ever be reflective of the society in terms of experiences,
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in part because we're appointed for life, and that means that a change -- fundamental changes in the court take a very, very long time to occur. so we're never going to be completely on an even keel with the sort of experiences of the society. 're going to be off keel a little bit. but i do worry a little bit, a lot, actually. not a little bit. not about diversity in its general sense of ethnicity or gender, but i do worry about it in terms of the lack of professional and life experience diversity that our court has, and i say that despite being a little bit different than my colleagues and some of my experiences and certainly in my life both justice thomas and i
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came from backgrounds somewhat dissimilar from our colleagues, but none of us really have the breath of important experiences to the law. for example, we have no criminal defense lawyers on our court. we have one civil rights lawyer, ruth right now. >> rose: right. there are so many other incredibly important civil rights issues out there continuing to be the civil rights movement for ethnic minorities but also for handicapped people. >> rose: right. we have very few practitioners with small and medium-sized practice experience, and we have very few people from geographical differences in the united states and, as you noted, very little in terms of religious differences and even less in terms of educational experiences. that's a lot of areas where we
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don't reflect the general society. so i think it does harm to our judging -- do i think it does harm to our judging? not necessarily. but i certainly think it does harm to the court's reflection of attempting to be broader in its outreach to people. and, so, it's like everything else -- if we're being asked to judge so much of what goes on in our society, i think what the court does will be received better if we're a little wider in what we represent. >> there is a counter-consideration. by the way, there was one state of the union that was vastly overrepresented in the supreme court and one law school, an it wasn't harvard, y'all or -- yale
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or columbia. it was stanford and it was arizona. >> rose: right. we had our chief justice. >> rose: rehnquist. and sandra day o'connor both from a state with relatively small population and both stanford due. >> rose: they were classmates. it was finally confirmed they did date. ( laughter ) ( applause ) >> rose: it's great to have two new yorkers back home. ( applause ) >> rose: for more about this program and earlier episodes, visit us online at and captioning sponsored by rose communications captioned by media access group at wgbh
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>> rose: on the next charlie rose, a continuation of our conversation. justice stephen breyer discusses the law and the supreme court.
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>> the point is when i get that kind of question which i do quite often from the college or high school, i do have this document. >> rose: right. and i say, i want to tell you something, and this is what i perhaps feel more strongly than what you brought up, but i would say that i can't tell you, i want to say to the college students or high school students, i can't tell you how to lead your rife. i hope you find someone to love. i hope that you have a job that's satisfying to you, and i also hope that you will participate in public life. now, that might be on the school board, it might be on the park commission, it can be anything. just go out and vote or persuade somebody else. now why? not because i'm trying to tell you what to do. i've raised children that do the opposite, but it's because -- this document, i can tell you
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this, that if you don't do that, if you don't do that, this document won't work. it is not the supreme court that tells people what to do. this document sets boundaries. we are, in a sense, the boundary commission. >> rose: funding for "charlie rose" has been provided by: >> and by bloomberg, a provider of multimedia news and information services worldwide. >> you're watching pbs.
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>> announcer: the following kqed production was produced in high definition. ♪ >> must have soup! >> the pancake is to die for! [ laughs ] >> it was a gut-bomb, but i liked it. >> good. i actually fantasize, in private moments, about the food i had. >> i didn't like it. >> you didn't like it? oh, okay. >> dining here makes me feel rich. >> and what about dessert? pecan pie, sweet potato pie.


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